Noted Alumnus And Prominent Education Advocate To Be Honored

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During its May 6 and 7 commencement ceremonies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will honor an alumnus who has become nationally known as an FBI profiler and hostage negotiator, and a local businesswoman who has been one of the biggest supporters of SIUE from the start.

During its May 6 and 7 commencement ceremonies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will honor an alumnus who has become nationally known as an FBI profiler and hostage negotiator, and a local businesswoman who has been one of the biggest supporters of SIUE from the start.

At the 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ceremonies on Saturday, May 7, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will be given to Clinton “Clint” R. Van Zandt, an author and public speaker who has achieved prominence as an FBI profiler, hostage negotiator and expert analyst. Dolores Rohrkaste will receive the Distinguished Service Award for her work over the years as an avid supporter of SIUE since its inception. That award will be given at the 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, ceremony.

The SIU Board of Trustees, through its executive committee, recently approved the awards. The SIUE Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee actively solicits nominations from members of the University community to obtain a diverse pool of qualified candidates for these awards.

A candidate for an honorary humane letters degree may be any person who has made significant contributions to cultural, educational, scientific, economic, social, humanitarian or other worthy fields of endeavor. Distinguished Service Awards may be presented to any person who has given outstanding or unusual service to the University, the region or the state.

According to the Premiere Speakers Bureau, Van Zandt began his career with the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps., serving during the Vietnam War. In 1971, he graduated from SIUE with a bachelor’s in sociology and joined the FBI as a special agent.

During his 25 years with the FBI, he served as chief hostage negotiator and as supervisor in the Behavioral Science unit, or “Silence of the Lambs Unit,” assisting in criminal investigations and hostage situations throughout the world.

In addition to coordinating psychological threat assessment for the FBI with the U.S. Government’s Nuclear Emergency Search Team for terrorist and criminally related nuclear, chemical and biological incidents globally, Van Zandt has lectured, taught and trained national and international counterterrorism teams, such as the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, U.S. Navy Seals, U.S. Army Delta Force and others.

The primary hostage negotiator in the 1987 Cuban prison riots and during other similar sieges, Van Zandt also personally negotiated with Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh, as well as many national and international terrorists holding U.S. citizens hostage.

Van Zandt retired in 1995 and founded Van Zandt Associates, Inc. (VZA), a company specializing in corporate emergency management, threat assessment and forensic consulting services. The VZA team was responsible for identifying the “Unabomber” and correctly profiling the Oklahoma City bomber on the day of the tragedy.

During the early 1950s, Rohrkaste was a founding member of the Southwestern Illinois Council for Higher Education (SWICHE), an organization formed to establish an institution of higher learning in the region.

After completing studies in art and architecture at the Chicago Art Institute and the University of Illinois, Rohrkaste operated a studio in downtown Edwardsville and also taught. She and her husband, William, were in the dairy business and joined the Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce.

For a decade, Rohrkaste was the group’s only female member. In 1953, she became the local chamber’s first female president and, according to a New York Times article, was the only female chamber president in the country.

Rohrkaste also has served in the community with the Edwardsville Business and Professional Women’s Club; the Edwardsville Junior Service Club; the League of Women Voters, and the Edwardsville Hospital Association Board. She is a sustaining member of the Greater Edwardsville Area Community Foundation and was president of a local organization to provide school lunches for children.

For her contributions to the community, she was voted the Outstanding Citizen of Edwardsville Award in 1959.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville offers the advantages of a small, liberal arts college with the low tuition rates of a state university. Our emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. Located in the second most populated area of the state, this Illinois university draws students from all 102 Illinois counties, 42 states and 50 nations.

The SIUE College of Arts and Sciences combines foundational education with diverse and highly-specialized coursework. Faculty help students explore diversity of ideas, experiences and people while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of a global society. The College offers 44 degree programs in the arts, humanities and social and natural sciences.

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